FROM READERS: Nancy Rogers honors her father's outlook on life

Friday, June 14, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Nancy Rogers with her father, Tom Rogers, a few years before he died.

Nancy Rogers lives with her mother, Melania; four rabbits; and two cats in Columbia. The family has a tree farm in northeast Columbia. She wrote this as a tribute to her father, Tom Rogers. He studied agriculture at MU on the GI Bill after World War II and lived in Columbia from 1946 until he died in 2002.

“Hey Nancy, how do you like my dirt? Isn’t that the most beautiful dirt you ever saw?”

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I look at the ground. I wonder what he sees in that dirt.

“Sure, dad.”

Tom Rogers loves to go out to the farm, ride his tractor and plant trees.

“Stomp 'em in real good, Nancy.”

We take a break for lunch. Kentucky Fried Chicken.

“Nancy, how do you like your lunch? Isn’t that the best fried chicken you’ve ever eaten?”

“Yeah, dad.”

After lunch we plant more trees.

“Stomp 'em in real good, Nancy.”

“O.K., dad.”

Late in the afternoon, after planting dozens of sweet gum, walnut and pine seedlings, we drive home in his truck.

“Mellie, I’m home!” his voice resonates through the house.

My mother has made stuffed green peppers for dinner. His fork dives into his food, then dives into mine.

“This is the best food I’ve ever eaten.”

“Oh, you say that every night, Tom,” my mom smiles.

And every night he means it. Every night for 56 years.

After dinner we go into “Dad’s Room,” the high-ceilinged oak paneled room with a huge rock fireplace. He collected rocks from every corner of Missouri, loading them into his truck one by one until he had enough to build his fireplace.

“How do you like my room, Nancy? Isn’t it the most beautiful room you ever saw?”

“Sure, dad.”

He starts laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

“Oh, I just told myself a joke!”

*  *  *

A few days before he died, my dad said, “You’re an exciting girl, Nancy.”

What he was really saying was, "Go for it, don’t hold back; be the exuberance and vitality that you are."

He was daring his daughter to be happy — even without him.

*  *  *

“Hey Dad, let’s go plant trees and sit by the lake and eat Kentucky fried chicken …

… and look at the most beautiful dirt you ever saw? ” a voice asks.

It’s Tom Rogers, still catching his daughter by surprise.

Nancy Rogers invites anyone who knew her dad to get in touch with her at or 707-217-2607.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's howSupervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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